Mono No Aware

Entrant 2021

Steven Denisevicz


Mono No Aware is an intense, single-player, mature-themed, narrative-driven, RPG where players go on a journey of self-discovery to escape from the depths of an anxiety-riddled dungeon. Players take control of June as she is transported to a world where all of her anxiety has come to life. To escape this dark dungeon, players must rewire June's brain by fixing panels scattered throughout the world, each representing a painful thought or memory. Acted out as a small play by the game's over-the-top characters, these interstitials let players get a glimpse into June's mindset, telling the story of her traumatic past. The challenge of these panels is simple, guide a block through a maze, but there's a catch! Players can't choose when they move, only in what direction, causing gameplay that is chaotic and addictively challenging.

To make panels easier, players can level up by defeating 'panic' enemies throughout the dungeon in turn-based RPG combat. Here, players must use mental health strategies they've learned previously to attack and manage the player's anxiety level. Creatures can either attack the player or raise their anxiety, leaving the player weak, vulnerable, and forced to make risky decisions to survive. June and the player's journey through Mono No Aware is a coming-of-age story that challenges the player to overcome anxiety through gameplay and come out the other side better understanding themselves and others.